Saturday, July 18, 2015

How Well Do You Know To Kill a Mockingbird?

With this week's much talked about release of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, I couldn't help but think back on the effect To Kill a Mockingbird had on me as an eighth grader.  Its message still resonates with readers today as it imparts a powerful lesson: empathy.

Scout learns how to empathize with people who are different than her, many of whom are symbolic mockingbirds shunned by society, including Walter Cunningham, Boo Radley, Mayella Ewell, and Tom Robinson.  As Atticus explains to Scout, "“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

I haven't taught To Kill a Mockingbird for several years, but I picked up a copy this weekend and started to read it.  I was of course transfixed and before I knew it, created several projects and activities for my future students.

So when was the last time you read To Kill a Mockingbird?  How well do you remember the book?  Take the quiz below to find out:

To Kill a Mockingbird Recall Quiz


1) What is Dill’s real name?
(A) Jack Harris
(B) William Peter Harris
(C) Charles Baker Harris
(D) Truman Harris

2) What does Jem use to try to deliver a message to Boo Radley?
(A) A fishing pole
(B) A rock
(C) A paper airplane
(D) A slingshot

3) What does Scout dress up as for the Halloween pageant?  
(A) An eggplant
(B) A ham
(C) A werewolf
(D) A mouse

4) The story takes place in 
(A) Atlanta, Georgia
(B) Maycomb, Alabama
(C) Nashville, Tennessee
(D) Maycomb, Georgia

5) What is the name of the mad dog?  
(A) Heck Tate
(B) Tom Johnson
(C) Tim Johnson
(D) Dolphus Raymond

6) Tom Robinson's wife is named
(A) Hannah
(B) Mayella
(C) Maudie
(D) Helen

7) During the trial, Atticus proves - 
(A) Tom Robinson wasn’t even in town the night of Mayella’s alleged rape.
(B) Mayella Ewell is a perpetual liar and needs psychologcial help. 
(C) Tom Robinson is left-handed and therefore, guilty.  
(D) Mayella Ewell was most likely beaten up by a left-handed man.  

8) During the trial, what makes Mayella think Atticus is making fun of her?  
(A) He shakes her hand.
(B) He calls her Miss Mayella.
(C) He sneers when she tells her story.
(D) He laughs at what she’s wearing. 

9) What does Atticus read to Scout the night of Bob Ewell’s attack?
(A) The Bible
(B) The Gray Ghost
(C) The Maycomb Tribune
(D) Robinson Crusoe

10) How does the Sheriff contend Bob Ewell died?  
(A) Heart attack
(B) Boo Radley stabbed him.
(C) Jem Finch stabbed him.
(D) He fell on his own knife.


Answers
1) C,  2) A,  3) B,  4) B,  5) C,  6) D,  7) D,  8) B,  9) B,  10) D





"[Courage] is when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."  Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird


For more TKAM classroom activities and reading support materials, please visit my store at: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/To-Kill-a-Mockingbird-Unit-Bundle-1965242


Friday, July 10, 2015

The Hype About Skype

Should one believe the hype about Skype?  Absolutely, yes!

My most recent Skype author visit was with the phenomenal fourth grade students from Schwarzkopf Elementary School in Lutz, Florida.  While nothing can replace a personal visitation, Skype allowed for an efficient, rewarding experience, bringing the students and me together in a personal and entertaining format.  The precocious tweens had prepared questions in advance and having read Lucy and CeCee’s How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School, they were eager to discuss the book and writing process in general.  In short, it was a glorious morning!

So for us non-techy types, what exactly is Skype?  Skype is an Internet telephone service that allows one to connect with others by video, telephone, or voice messaging.  Once you download the Skype software, setting up an account is relatively easy, and utilizing basic services such as video calls is free, which is economical for schools that are often challenged with limited budgets.

Some Skype Author Tips I share with librarians and teachers to help the presentation go smoothly as possible and maximize our time together include the following:

Download Skype and open an account if your school doesn’t have one already.  (Contact your technology coordinator to make sure you can use the software. Some districts block programs like Skype, and if that’s the case, you’ll want to see if it’s possible to unblock it for your program). Test it out at school to make sure it works.

Contact the author to arrange your virtual visit. Set a date and time and decide which videoconferencing program you’ll use and who will initiate the call.

Plan the presentation. How long will it last?  Will students gather around a computer or will the author be projected on a big screen?  Where will kids stand or sit so they can be seen and heard?  Have kids write questions on index cards in advance to keep the discussion moving.

The day before, set up a “trial call” with the author to make sure everything is working on both ends.

Make sure the kids understand that your connection may be lost temporarily during the chat. It helps to have a plan in place for when that happens.

On the day of the presentation during Q and A, if the kids seem reticent, you might start things off with a question or two to prompt discussion.

If your connection is lost, don’t panic. Just call the author back. It may take a few tries before you establish a good connection.

Keep an eye on the clock, and let students know when it’s almost time to wrap up the discussion.


Skype author presentations are a win-win for both authors and schools, who most certainly will integrate them into prevailing Blended Learning curriculum and digital instruction.  They are a time saver for busy authors and a money saver for schools.  Most importantly, Skype author presentations provide an opportunity for an interactive connection among the literary troika of author, student, and text.  Online, interactive school visits are the wave of the future as students, authors, and educators can dialog about the joy of expressing oneself through the written word.

Happy Skyping!

You can use the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Speakers Bureau to find authors who Skype at http://www.scbwi.org/speakers-bureau/






Thirty Sample Student Questions to Ask Authors During Skype Interviews

1. When did you first start writing?

2. What is the hardest part about writing a book?

3. How do you know when a book is finished?

4. How do you keep track of the different characters, events, and places?

5. What time of day do you do your best/ most productive writing?

6. What do you do with random ideas that pop into your head when you can't write them down?

7. What inspired your first book?

8. Do you map out the entire plot? Or just write as it comes to you?

9. What do you do when you get stuck or experience writer’s block?

10. What are your tips/ secrets about writing for any up and coming author who may need help/ encouragement?

11. When you are not writing, what do you like to do for fun?

12. What books do you enjoy reading? (favorite genre, author, book, etc.)

13. How long does it take you to write a book?

14. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

15. How do books get published?

16. Do you edit or proofread your own books?

17. How do you research information or ideas for your books?

18.  What does your family (parents, spouse, kids) think of your writing?

19.  How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

20.  Do you have a favorite character?  Which character would be your best friend?

21.  Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

22.  Are people ever critical of your books?  How does it make you feel?

23.  What audience do you write for?

24.  What do you think makes a good story?

25.  How did you come up with the title?

26.  Is there an overall message or theme in your books that you want readers to grasp?

27.  How much of the book is based on real life or someone you know?

28.  What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

29.  What are your current writing projects?

30.  Who designed the cover(s) of your book(s)?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wild About Word Walls!

Teachers are wild about Word Walls for good reason - they work!  Everyone is affected by what they see and Word Walls serve that very purpose.  Students can literally read the room with eye-catching, engaging Word Walls.  Furthermore, Word Walls add to a best practice, print-rich environment that is a critical component of emerging literacy.

What exactly is a Word Wall?

A Word Wall is a collection of related words, which are displayed on a wall or bulletin board for visual reference when reading, writing, or speaking.  The ideal Word Wall is a teacher AND student-created artifact - an interactive, work-in-progress exhibit that is added to weekly or even daily.  There are many types of Word Walls specific to the ELA classroom, such as Sight Word Walls, Literature Based Word Walls, Seasonal Word Walls, Writing Word Walls, Spelling Word Walls, Parts of Speech Word Walls, Phonics/Phonemic Word Walls, Content Area Word Walls, and Unit/Chapter Word Walls.


10 Reasons to be Wild About Word Walls…

Word Walls support the teaching of key words and subject-specific terminology.
Word Walls promote independence in reading and writing by building vocabulary support.
Word Walls are a visual daily reference, as students retain what they see.
Word Walls are a high-yield strategy that can be used across the curriculum.
Word Walls create a classroom that is a print-rich environment.
Word walls encourage student participation and engagement.
Word Walls are an interactive reference tool that can be used daily in reading, writing, and speaking.
Word Walls can easily replace boring, tedious worksheets or packets.
Word Walls can be used for quick progress monitoring and assessment.
Word Walls are extremely effective for English Language Learners.



WORDS of Advice for Effective Word Walls

Print Word Wall Cards on card stock.
Ideally print in color, but grayscale will work too.
If you laminate your Word Wall cards, they will last for years.
Refer to Word Walls in your daily instruction, and encourage students to do so as well when reading, writing, or speaking.
• Word Walls are a work in progress and should be a growing student-created artifact.  Have your students add to the working Working Walls in your classroom on a weekly or even daily basis.


For ELA Word Wall Products, visit my store at TeachersPayTeachers:


Friday, May 29, 2015

Sensational Teen and Tween Summer Reads

As we all fondly recall, summer vacation is the ultimate!  Staying up late into the night, basking in the golden sun, slurping up frothy ice cream concoctions, and yes - hopefully reading a good book or two or three...or three in one day.  And why not?  It's summer, after all.

Here is a list of twelve of my fave summer reads for tweens and teens.  The list includes some classics and some contemporary, depending on personal choice.  Either way, tweens/teens will have a blast getting their read on!!!



Kimberly's 2015 Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens


1) The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

2) Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

3) The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

4) The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

5) Monster - Walter Dean Myers

6) Divergent - Veronica Roth

7) The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton

8) The Best of Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl

9) If I Stay - Gayle Forman

10) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

11) Maximum Ride - James Patterson

12) Girl Online - Zoe Sugg


HAPPY READING!!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Buon Appetito Now Available by Schoolwide

Buon Appetito, a multicultural celebration food book that supports early literacy for the emergent reader, is now available by Schoolwide, Inc.

Synopsis:  Children come from all around the world, and so do foods. Come celebrate a world-traveling feast with the children of Signora Fina's class. As each student presents a type of food from a different country, you'll think about the foods you like to eat–and you may get a bit hungry, too!  Although Buon Appetito is written with the ELL student in mind, its universal message of inclusion and celebration can be enjoyed by any child.





If you are not familiar with Schoolwide, check out their website at http://www.schoolwide.com/zing where they are opening the door to a world of teaching and learning possibilities with Zing, the new, premier digital library.

Zing opens the door to a world of teaching and learning possibilities by providing access to thousands of fiction and nonfiction eBooks and short digital texts (articles, essays, poems, and primary sources) in English and Spanish.  Additionally, Zing's unmatched selection of authentic texts includes popular award-winning authors and titles from a vast array of publishers.

The future of reading is here!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

We've all seen the bumper sticker: If you can read this, thank a teacher!  The adage may be trite, but there is truth behind it.  

By the time high school graduation rolls around, we've had our share of competent teachers and maybe even a couple bad apples.  But there is always that special teacher who truly did make a difference.  He or she was the one who challenged you, made you see the world a certain way, and in the end changed your soul.  You may have never thanked that special teacher, but you can still show appreciation for the educators who work so tirelessly to make the world a better place.  

Just a simple handwritten note is the most special thing you can do show your gratitude.  I keep all my notes from students and parents over the years in a tattered old file folder that I had started my first year of teaching.  When I'm having a bad day or in need of a speedy attitude adjustment, I read a couple of letters.  The words are so precious and honest; they never fail to reenergize my spirit and remind me of why I do what I do.  

So thank a teacher this week and tell them they are appreciated.  It will mean the world!  

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein




In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, please visit my store-wide sale at Teachers Pay Teachers.  



125 × 125

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thank You, Coffee County Middle School

I had a fabulous time last night at Authors' Night at Coffee County Middle School in Manchester, TN.  The students were ebullient and full of questions about how to become a writer.  It was such an inspiration.  Thank you, Coffee County Middle School!




For more information on Kimberly Dana Author Events, please visit my website at http://kimberlydana.com/author_visits_19.html